Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh: a two-horse race

Representative image

Representative image

Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti said on Thursday that while the panel had requests from Himachal Pradesh to hold elections before harsh winter set in, the Gujarat government had requested that it be allowed to finish several relief and rehabilitation works following floods in the state, before the code of conduct was enforced.

The Election Commission was scheduled to announce the dates for Himachal and Gujarat Assembly elections on Thursday, but it only announced the dates for Himachal.

Usually when elections are due within a period of six months, these states are combined and a joint announcement is made, it said.

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"What were the compulsions of EC to announce the poll dates for Himachal and not Gujarat?"

"There are many questions raised in public domain as to why the EC did not announce schedule for Gujarat polls".

The terms of the present Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assemblies end two weeks apart.

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From the dates announced for the Prime Minister's visits to Gujarat this week it becomes clear that space has been left for the announcement of more sops directed at the state's electorate before the model code of conduct is clamped. In the Himachal Assembly, the ruling Congress has 35 members while the strength of Opposition BJP is 28.

"This is even stranger if Gujarat Assembly elections are to be completed before December 18, then the Model Code of Conduct must be applicable to that state as well", the CPI-M said. "Reason is that PM is visiting Gujarat on October 16, as false Santa Claus to announce sops and jumlas that he didn't implement for 22 yrs", Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala wrote on microblogging website Twitter. This would enhance the transparency and credibility of the election process, the CEC said.

The Commission said the decision to count the votes in HP in December after polling in Gujarat was taken to ensure that the poll outcome in one State does not affect polling trends in the other.

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Referring to the Election Commission stating that it is supposed to conduct elections in a state within 46 days, Singhvi said this time limit has been broken in the past on numerous occasions including in elections in Delhi, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Arunachal and Andhra Pradesh.

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